updated 9/13/2005 1:12:47 PM ET 2005-09-13T17:12:47

Guests: Donna Wackerbauer, Horace Troullier, Andy Kahn, Julia Reed, David Vitter

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  And tonight‘s top headline, as you know, Brown is out.  Two weeks and a day after Katrina crushed the Gulf Coast, political realities crash down on FEMA Director Mike Brown.  He‘s out.  Tonight, we will have an exclusive report on just how badly FEMA and state and local governments let the people of this region down when their lives were at stake. 

Then, with records destroyed, Louisiana criminals are on the loose. 

Some of thousands of sex offenders may be in shelters full of children.  This is a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Katrina: Crisis and Recovery.”

Thanks so much for being with me tonight.  We‘re going to have all the latest on the nasty exit of FEMA chief Michael Brown and the president‘s return to the Gulf Coast.  You know, a few more visits this week and he can probably register to week to vote in Louisiana.  Plus, pets left behind in Katrina‘s wake.  We‘re going to talk to a pair who have rescued 500 cats and dogs.  And with thousands still stranded, they say their work has just begun. 

And two weeks later, the president spent the last night in the Gulf region.  And he spent today touring the devastation in New Orleans and in Mississippi.  And he‘s pledging more federal money to help rebuild that battered area. 

Let‘s go live to MSNBC‘s David Shuster, who is in New Orleans tonight. 

David, get us up to date with the very latest. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Joe, it‘s actually getting a little bit better here in New Orleans because the water is certainly receding. 

Some of the areas that were underwater a couple of days ago that we went to, you can see that the water is gone and what‘s behind is a smelly, brownish sort of muck that is on the ground.  But even the smell seems to have gotten better.  Where there is still water—and we are talking about maybe 40 percent of the city—it still smells like sort of rotting eggs mixed with some gasoline fumes.  Every now and then, you smell something that seems to be rotting, which we presume to be a dead animal, given that they have taken most of the dead bodies, at least the ones that were in obvious plain view. 

But, in any case it does seem that the water is receding.  The question is, when they start doing some of these soil samples of what‘s left behind, whether or not it‘s very safe for anybody to start returning. 

In the meantime, at the Memorial Hospital here in New Orleans, some of the fears that they had have come true.  The patients who were apparently on ventilators, on life support, many of them died.  Yesterday, officials said 45 bodies were retrieved from Memorial Hospital.  This is the same hospital that had a sign on the hospital door right after the storm came through.  The sign was upside down and it said, “Help, please.”

They did not get the help.  They never did get power.  They were able to evacuate the nurses and the doctors and some of the staff, but the patient who were in critical condition there, there was nothing that could be done for them.  Again, 45 patients at that hospital died. 

Meanwhile, we‘re finally getting a clearer picture of some of the horror stories that some of the first-responders had after the storm went through.  We have heard from the New Orleans Fire Department, who talked about how, for the first five days, they could barely communicate with each others.  Well, now we have heard from urban search-and-rescue crews out of California, who said that they were told by FEMA not to take an airplane to get here, but to take a bus, because 28 members of that team, that the government would not pay for their airfare, about $30,000. 

In hindsight, that was a huge blunder, given that these were the teams that had the sort of search-and-rescue communications equipment.  And, in fact, there you see pictures taken by the NBC crew of the California search-and-rescue teams loading a bus in California.  They would then ride this bus for 2,000 miles.  It took them two-and-a-half days to get here.  And by the time they got here, the New Orleans Police Department was beleaguered.  They had no communication. 

They had boats that they had commandeered.  But a very difficult rescue was under way.  A lot of people asking, why was it that—the Fremont Fire Department and all the rest in California were ready to get on a plane.  Why was it they were not allowed on a plane right from the beginning?


SCARBOROUGH:  David—help me out here, David.  Are you telling me tonight—and you‘ve got this exclusively—are you telling me tonight that these people contacted FEMA and were ready to fly out the day after the storm and they were told, no thanks; we don‘t need your help? 

SHUSTER:  That‘s right.  That‘s exactly what we‘re reporting, Joe. 

They said, we know that there‘s going to be a problem in New Orleans.  We have got all of our equipment.  We have got a military plane ready.  Let us go.  And FEMA said, no, we don‘t think we need you right now.  We haven‘t heard from people in New Orleans.  Therefore, we‘re not going to authorize the trip.  We are not going to pay for the airfare. 

If you want to go, if you think there‘s a problem, get on the bus.  And by the time they got here, the New Orleans Police Department and their search-and-rescue totally beleaguered and, yet, you have these people on a bus with the kind of equipment, the kind of communications equipment, that was needed. 

Remember, Joe, in the first couple of days, the New Orleans Police Department, they were using boats that they had commandeered.  But they could not communicate.  If a boat went to a house and rescued five people, because that‘s all the room was, but there were 15 more people in that house, the New Orleans Police Department did not have the communications equipment to be able to radio back to other New Orleans Fire Department or Police and say, hey, there‘s 15 more people on the boat.

That problem would have been solved if in fact they would have allowed these teams from California to fly out here immediately, because they had the kind of communications equipment that this catastrophe called for. 

One other issue, Joe, that we have heard from L.A. County firefighters, when they apparently rolled in with 12 trucks here in New Orleans, FEMA would not authorize them to get fuel for their trucks because they had not sought proper permission to be here.  Eventually, they got the fuel the next day, but all of this, the fire trucks not getting the fuel, the urban search-and-rescue teams not being allowed to take a plane here, that is now apparently part of an official complaint that the California firefighters have filed not only with Senators Boxer and Feinstein, but also a formal complaint letter that they have sent to FEMA asking for an investigation. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David Shuster in New Orleans, thank you so much.  I greatly appreciate the report. 

And I will tell you what.  David—what David is telling you out there is the same thing that I have been finding on the ground over the past two weeks.  And, friends, you would not believe it.  I get an e-mail from Trent Lott‘s office and they‘re telling me, go to this hospital.  And I read the e-mail.  It‘s from a registered nurse who says, babies are walking around in diapers three days old.  They need your help.  People are being pushed away from the hospital. 

We drive there with supplies.  I meet this person, this federal authority.  And I said, we‘re here with diapers.  We‘re here with formula.  We understand the children are distressed here.  The guy‘s arrogant.  And he says, we don‘t need your stuff.  Turn around.  Go home. 

This weekend, a friend who is working with our charity is in church.  A person that helps run the Red Cross shipments over comes up to him and says, you all, just stop wasting your time.  And the person‘s taken back, says, what do you mean?  We‘re feeding all these people.  We‘re helping all these people.  He said, everything you ship over to Mississippi and Louisiana, we‘re just having to ship back.  You‘re just wasting your time. 

I‘m telling you, friends, there is such arrogance.  Of course, the answer was, well, that‘s very funny, because, every time we open the door, there‘s children there.  There are grandmothers there.  They break down crying.  We‘re handing the food directly to them.  I‘m telling you, we have a serious problem in the United States of America right now by federal bureaucrats and state bureaucrats and local bureaucrats and relief agency bureaucrats, yes, like the Red Cross. 

There is a level of arrogance.  And I‘m telling you, all of these groups are like rival gangs.  I have seen it firsthand.  Every politician on the ground has seen it firsthand.  These people would rather have people in their areas suffer than not get the credit for helping them out.  It is disgusting.  We have seen it with 10,000 vaccines that we couldn‘t get from Pensacola, Florida, over to New Orleans. 

We have seen it with food shipments that FEMA stopped.  We have seen Trent Lott talking about how FEMA and the Mississippi groups would not allow trailers to come in.  I‘m telling you, it is a scandal of epic proportions.  And, again, it ain‘t the FEMA people who are suffering.  It‘s not the Red Cross directors who are suffering.  It is the poorest and the weakest and the oldest among us, the people who cannot—as Hubert Humphrey said, the people living in the shadows of life.

And it‘s disgusting. 

And I will tell you what.  I‘m going to bring in right now somebody that knows this even better than I do.  I know I have been a little tough on some of these people.  I‘m not going to ask him to join in, but I know he‘s probably been frustrated like my, Senator David Vitter, Republican senator from Louisiana. 

Senator Vitter, I went on a little rampage there.  I‘m not asking you to agree with all my comments, but haven‘t you been disgusted how some of these big bureaucracies say no, no, no, when your people need them to say yes, yes, yes, come in with your vaccines; come in with your supplies?

SEN. DAVID VITTER ®, LOUISIANA:  Well, Joe, in terms of...

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead. 

VITTER:  In terms of your—in terms of your rampage, I will say amen immediately, because I have been on the ground, like you, and I have seen that firsthand, story after story after story. 

You know, it‘s amazing that what worked is private initiative, local leaders, private citizens and individuals all over the devastated area in Louisiana and also all over the country trying to get them supplies.  What didn‘t work are the agencies and the bureaucracies with big budgets and big plans, couldn‘t get them there. 

And these individuals and small church and other groups with no budget and no master plan beat the bureaucrats to the scene with real help, in many cases, by over a week.  So, I say amen to everything you just said. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about—well, actually, you know, let‘s talk about my efforts for a second, not my efforts, but our whole community‘s efforts. 

You know, we tried for the first six, seven days to work through federal agencies...

VITTER:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... through charities, and all we got was pushback:  We don‘t need your help.  We don‘t need you over here.

VITTER:  Right.  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But then a pastor of a church in Louisiana in your state would call and say, we have got children here who are dehydrated.  They could die if we don‘t get supplies.  We‘d rush them over there. 

How do we work through this, moving forward, to make sure that people who want to help can help those most affected? 


VITTER:  Unfortunately, you have to learn the hard way, but you need to actually go around the bureaucrats and just connect person to person, organization to organization. 

And you and your viewers have done a great service.  And thank you for collecting your viewers and friends up and organizing a major relief effort that has an impact at the local level.  And what I‘m telling people now—sometimes, I have friends who have the ability to raise some money.

Wynton Marsalis, the jazz trumpeter, for instance, who I went to high school with, called me a few days and said, exactly how can I be most effective helping?  What I‘m telling him, what I‘m telling everybody who asks me that is, you need to go around these super-bureaucracies, public or private.  You need to hook up with churches and community groups and leading citizens on the ground, because that‘s how your effort can really have a positive, effective impact. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I want to talk—I just want to mention two people right now.  There‘s a guy in Jackson, Mississippi.  And  Tricia Lott actually gave me his name.  He‘s doing an incredible job.  They‘ve taken over an old Winn-Dixie.  They‘ve got a rule.  They leave nothing on the ground more than three hours. 

You get it up to the distribution point, they take it up to the people in Mississippi. 

VITTER:  That‘s great.

SCARBOROUGH:  Over in Louisiana, you have got a guy in Louisiana—and I need to get his name tomorrow night.  He‘s just doing an unbelievable job. 

But, again, they‘re locals on the ground.  And what we have found is, you have got to drive through these communities...

VITTER:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  ... looking for people who are hurting, because the bureaucracies are keeping all of these items stocked up in huge warehouses on the outside, outskirts of town, and, I will be honest with you, in some areas, in the white areas of town, where the people who need it most simply are not getting it. 


SCARBOROUGH:  I want to ask you a political question—go ahead. 


VITTER:  I was just going to say, most of these private and church and other groups are not on FEMA‘s radar.  They‘re not on the radar of the state bureaucracy, even today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s talk about a political question.  Do you think the people of your state are glad that the FEMA director, Michael Brown, got fired today? 

VITTER:  Yes, I do think they‘re very glad. 

And, if they have had the opportunity to meet Vice Admiral Thad Allen, who has essentially taken his operational duties on the ground, great Coast Guard leader, as I have had the opportunity to meet him, I think they would be even happier about that, because he seems like a very no-nonsense, competent guy. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I messed up.  I said he got fired.  Actually, he resigned voluntarily. 

Next question.  The president keeps coming back to your state.  Do you think he finally gets it?  Do you think he understands now that he seemed to be at least too disconnected the first 48 to 72 hours and now he‘s going to do everything he can to make it up to the people of Louisiana? 

VITTER:  Oh, I think, as soon as the president got on the ground and really heard and saw firsthand, he got it immediately.  And he took charge in a very proactive way. 

So, seeing that leadership firsthand, I have been impressed with that.  I understand there are issues about the first few days and the failure of the bureaucracy.  But, in terms of his actually seeing things and acting based on that information, I have been very impressed.  And, quite frankly, it‘s in contrast to some other key leaders on the scene in Louisiana. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no doubt about it.  I wanted to talk to you about that.  We‘re going to need to go to break, though.  Thanks so much for being with us, David Vitter.

VITTER:  Thank you, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I really appreciate all the great work you‘ve been doing. 

And one final thought before we go to break, friends.  I think FEMA did—I think the FEMA director should have left.  But let me tell you something.  The fact is, he ran four—four good hurricane rescue situations last year in the state of Florida.  That means, again, the local responders did their job.  That did not happen in New Orleans.  It didn‘t happen in Louisiana.  The state and local leaders there failed terribly. 

Coming up next, the scenes are heart-wrenching, American citizens the victims of monumental mismanagement.  But who is really to blame and who is going to be held accountable?  We have got the real deal coming up. 

And for many of the victims, the cruelest consequences of Katrina—that‘s straight ahead. 

We‘ll be right back in a second.


SCARBOROUGH:  Thousands of pets still stranded in the greater New Orleans area.  There are two people that are going around doing everything they can to rescue them all.  We will have their story when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back. 

I‘m joined now by two New Orleans residents.  We have “Vogue” magazine‘s Julia Reed.  She‘s the author of “Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena” and also historian Douglas Brinkley. 

Julia, let me begin with you.  You wrote in “Newsweek”—quote—

“There are loved ones to mourn, disease to fear and a city that must rise from the ruins.  We are a battered but battle-proud lot and do not take defeat well.  All I can think of is getting back there.”

Well, you went back there over the weekend.  Tell us, what did you find? 

JULIA REED, “VOGUE”:  Well, first of all, I found out how much I love the Oklahoma National Guard. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Tell us about it. 


REED:  Who—who have got—as soon as—I talked to a lot of people, even in my neighborhood, who stuck it out and are still there.  And they just said, the difference, you know, between the minute the Guard arrived, you know, it was just night and day. 

I mean, they have completely restored order—well, not completely, but it‘s pretty amazing, what they have done.  And it‘s just a different city than what we saw on television last week.  I mean, the looters are hiding out or gone.  I mean, they‘re finding huge caches of loot all over town. 

These guys have just methodically taken back the city.  And it‘s surreal, because, you see, the dry side of the city, the French Quarter, the Merani (ph) and Bywater down, below the French Quarter, then above that, the Garden District and uptown, and on up to St. Charles, to where Doug lives, is really—it looks like, boy, a bad storm came through here.  There are a whole lot of dead trees down.  But other than that, you‘d think, well, gosh, if you could get electricity in there, you would function. 

I mean, I went by all my favorite restaurants and the wineglasses are still upside down.  You can see through the window.  I mean, it looks like you could just walk in and have dinner. 

And then you go about, you know, eight or 10 blocks across St.  Charles, and it‘s like just something out of a horror movie.  I went in with the guys in their Humvees and their boats and stuff.  And as soon as the water recedes, they find more dead bodies.  They‘ve been eaten by dogs.  You know, you find all these—you‘ve never seen. 

I mean, being New Orleans, there are sort of funny sites in the middle of the horror.  And it‘s just bizarre.  There are people that have lost everything, but there‘s one guy that is, you know, staying in town.  And I said, what do you need?  And he said, ice and garlic powder.  Oh. 


SCARBOROUGH:  That is a New Orleans resident if I ever heard of a New Orleans resident. 



REED:  The people who have stuck it out are—and a lot of locals stuck it out and got boats and went and rescued—like I said, you better just hope that some private citizen comes and saves you, honey, instead of the government, because there‘s a guy who started the Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, a guy I know pretty well.

And his house was high and dry.  So, he just got a boat and has stayed there the whole time.  He‘s rescued hundreds of people.  You know, when the water started rising, he just went out and started the work.  And, as you have pointed out, that‘s the way to go.  Yesterday, I have to say, the most heartbreaking thing, we drove back from the floodwaters past a big fire station, and all the volunteers there were N.Y.—were New York City firemen, who, you know—it was September 11 yesterday, as you well know. 


REED:  And it was just heartbreaking to see those guys.  And they were, you know, slapping the backs of the Guard guys.  The Guard guys are subsisting on MRE‘s, so I am very popular now that I have brought them hams and things. 


REED:  But the firefighters were giving them their food.  And it‘s just been—I mean, suddenly, as horrific as the sites I described to you, it‘s uplifting. 

Paul Prudhomme came back in the city today, reopened his restaurant, and is cooking for the relief workers. 


Hey, Doug Brinkley, let me bring you in. 

Obviously, a lot of chaos in New Orleans.  You talked about it when you were there.  Today, the FEMA director resigned.  I think he would have been fired if he didn‘t resign.  Would you say that, of all the bad actors out there, that FEMA probably has botched this and will be remembered when the history of this storm is being written as the bureaucracy that let down the most people? 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Yes, without question, it‘s FEMA, because anybody who went down on the ground, whether you were in Baton Rouge or whether you tried to make your way into New Orleans or anywhere on the Gulf Coast, somehow, there was somebody from FEMA with a clipboard telling you what you couldn‘t do. 

As you‘ve been saying, you got nos all the time.  And you got a kind

of bureaucratic answer and generally a rudeness that you were somehow

disturbing the status quo, when there was no status quo.  It was like

people—robots trying to stay robots in the midst of anarchy.  And it‘s -

Brown will go down in the annals sort of like as one of the great failed bureaucrats.  And, clearly, he was not a man up to the job. 

I‘m sure he‘s a good man.  And, as you said, he‘s handled hurricanes and other natural disasters for the last few years.  But this was the big one.  And when the big one came, he failed.

SCARBOROUGH:  Doug, what‘s the difference there?  Doug, what‘s the difference there?  Because, if this guy had gone came straight from managing an Arabian horse association or whatever he did to running hurricanes, that would be one thing.  But he went through four major hurricanes last year. 

And I will tell you.  Perhaps he was just covered up by Jeb Bush.  How do you go through four major hurricanes and then the fifth comes along and you just collapse? 

BRINKLEY:  Well, it was a Category 5 hurricane in New Orleans.  We knew the levee systems were—along Pontchartrain was only good for three.  There was a doomsday scenario out there about New Orleans, which most of Florida doesn‘t have, although they always get hit badly. 

And I think he didn‘t understand the culture, the amount of—you had 100,000 New Orleans residents staying.  He didn‘t—when he didn‘t know that people were starving and almost unable to breathe in the Convention Center when CNN, MSNBC, all you guys were saying it, there—he didn‘t have an infrastructure around him, at best, meaning he should have been knowing every second what was going on.  And he failed and his failure was a large one. 

And I personally witnessed a group of trucks that were delivering goods in Baton Rouge being shoved back and not allowed in.  And these are days after, you know, the hurricane hit, and people were desperate.  And that indifference towards helping is criminal in any kind of sense.  And, I mean, you can call it a bureaucratic snafu, but I think, when the—some day, when there‘s a museum, which will be built on this great deluge, you will have Mike Brown as one of the feckless bad guys in this drama. 

REED:  Well, I totally agree with Doug on FEMA and everything you just said.

But, you know, your point earlier, Joe, just a minute ago, was like, you know, he did go through some other hurricanes.  And, yes, New Orleans is completely different.  But one of the things New Orleans and Louisiana is different about is, you know, our government doesn‘t work very well on a good day in this state. 


SCARBOROUGH:  No, it doesn‘t.

REED:  And you hear stuff.  You know, from the ticktock, the timeline now, as you know, Amtrak had a train coming in Saturday getting their stuff out of there and offered the city, look, you know, we‘re going to have an empty train, an empty passenger train.  We can take hundreds, maybe thousands of people.  And they never even responded to that offer. 


BRINKLEY:  Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Daley of Illinois, many people around the country, while the storm, before it even hit, were offering goods to New Orleans, and they were all being rejected. 

REED:  Yes.  And the locals—I mean, this was before FEMA got in on the act.  I mean, I do think that we had a local government that was not -- 

, you know, the National Guardsmen that called and I talked to said they were...


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Julia, if you can hold it.  Hold it.  Hold it right there, Julia.  We have got to go to break. 

But I want to finish this on the other side of the break.  And I‘m going to associate myself with those remarks.  If you had a Rudy Giuliani or a Mayor Daley or a Jeb Bush, especially, who I have seen handle these things with ruthless efficiency, this wouldn‘t have happened, friends.  I can say that without a doubt.  If you had a strong leader, Democrat or Republican, that was there, instead of the clowns that were running this operation on the local and the state level, all these people would not have died. 

Stay with us.  We‘re going to have more with our special guests. 

Plus, it‘s disaster after disaster.  What went wrong?  We have got new information on some stunning mistakes made.  And we will tell you exactly what happened and what we can do to be ready next time. 

Plus, a new threat to the victims of Katrina.  There are sex offenders lurking in shelters tonight, but where are they?  We will try to find out when we return. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, stories of people who lost everything, but found their pets, that and much more coming up straight ahead.

But, first, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hundreds of kids still separated from their parents.  And tonight, a new danger:  Thousands of sex offenders unaccounted for after the storm could be in these shelters with their prey. 

Then, so many pets alone and stranded.  We are going to be talking to some people who have been saving animals since the storm hit.  And they have some happy endings to share with you tonight. 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes. 

But, right, now let‘s go back to “Vogue” magazine‘s Julia Reed.  And we also have Doug Brinkley with us. 

Julia, let me start back with you again.  I want to talk about—you said New Orleans didn‘t function well on a good day, but then you started giving examples of people who were actually offering to help New Orleans before the storm hit and they were told no by city officials? 

REED:  Well, yes. 

I mean, like not just people, like Amtrak saying, here, you want a train?  That‘s a pretty big person.  But I—you know, when I was with the Guard over the weekend, one of the guys, one of the sergeants that I was riding on this Humvee with said, you know—he‘s in Oklahoma.  He‘s outside of Tulsa.  He‘s looking at this on TV.  He‘s like, I was wondering why we weren‘t deployed earlier. 

They got the word on Thursday and then most of them sat in a Naval base to fly out and didn‘t leave until Saturday.  You know, Kathleen Blanco was asked when she activated the Guard on CNN last week.  And she said: 

Look, I don‘t even know what day it is now.  How do you expect to answer that question? 

Which is clearly a dodge.  I would hope that we have the kind of leadership that would at least know what day of the week it was. 


REED:  You know, it doesn‘t really inspire a whole lot of confidence.

I mean, Ray Nagin has been in Dallas since last Wednesday until Sunday.  I mean, he was on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, but he was in Dallas, which nobody bothered to mention.  I understand he wants to go be with his family, but I just—I think that these people could have at least talked the talk, even if they kind of blew it in the follow-through. 

I just—I think we have just seen kind of glaring examples of lack of leadership. 


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s been terrible. 

Doug Brinkley, when New Orleans is rebuilt, do you think there‘s any hope that the government, the police department, all these areas that have just been so mismanaged in the years, may actually be reformed? 

BRINKLEY:  Well, that‘s the great hope.  It‘s like a rat‘s nest that‘s been kind of swept away right now.  And we have got a chance to start over again. 

I think the key that we have been mentioning—and you have the French Quarter is doing pretty well and the Garden District and uptown.


BRINKLEY:  Electricity is starting to come back.

But the port of New Orleans is going to be crucial.  I mean, 20 percent of all American imports and exports go through the New Orleans port.  And that port needs to be rebuilt.  In recent years, it‘s lost a lot of business to Galveston and to Mobile and other places. 

REED:  Yes. 

BRINKLEY:  If the port thrives, New Orleans becomes a big two-industry town, tourism, the port business.  And then, hopefully, some of these other corporations and some of the Houston money—you know, there‘s only one Fortune 500 company, compared to like 18 in Houston.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, in Houston.

BRINKLEY:  It‘s a lot to ask, but the rebuilding‘s beginning today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Thank you so much, Doug.

And thank you, Julia.  Greatly appreciate both of you being with us tonight. 

And now, nice sweep.  Tropical Storm Ophelia has been teasing its way up the coast of the Carolinas.  Right now, it‘s just 200 miles off the Carolinas. 

And NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski is live in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. 

Michelle, get us up to date with the very latest. 


As you know, this has been the hurricane that was and then wasn‘t, then was once again, and now is not a hurricane.  It is a tropical storm at the very least.  Now, we are seeing clouds in a ring, so they‘re carrying the strong winds and some rain.  We‘re in a very vulnerable area.  This is the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  They are used to getting hit by hurricanes.  You know, for a while, they were getting hit every year by a powerful storm. 

But, so far, people are not very worried.  We drove up the coast from Charleston, which was originally in the path of Ophelia.  And it was interesting to see the reactions starting on Friday, because this thing‘s been hanging around out there.  South Carolina opened shelters, then closed them again.  Now we‘re told those shelters are back open. 

Also, they‘ve been evacuating some of the low-lying areas.  Remember, this is the low country, extremely prone to flooding.  They‘ve also been taking some people out of mobile home parks in those low-lying areas.  And here in North Carolina, they have had a state of emergency enacted since Saturday, also evacuating some people, but just in a small part of the Outer Banks that is only accessible by ferry.  And that is Ocracoke Island. 

The word we are hearing from officials, from the emergency operations center, is they‘re just going to meet early tomorrow morning and then regroup.  And that‘s what we have been hearing every morning, because this storm is so slow moving and it‘s so changeable.  Yes, this could still strengthen to be a Category 1 hurricane.  But the word among people around here is, they‘re not very worried.  We haven‘t seen a single person boarding up any buildings at this point—Joe, back to you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, great news.  Thanks so much, Michelle Kosinski.  Greatly appreciate it. 

Now back to the story of Hurricane Katrina.  According to one local official, when aid did finally show up, it hurt more than it helped. 

Here‘s Dateline NBC‘s Stone Phillips. 



of the destruction that‘s the result of civil disorder could have been avoided if the resources had been available to feed hungry people, to give hungry people food and water and formula for their infants. 

STONE PHILLIPS, NBC ANCHOR:  Walter Maestri, emergency manager director for Jefferson Parish, says federal help of any kind was late in coming. 

PHILLIPS (on camera):  When did the first federal presence really show up? 

MAESTRI:  For approximately six days, we sat here waiting. 

PHILLIPS:  Nearly a week? 

MAESTRI:  Nearly a week. 

PHILLIPS:  Were you prepared? 

MAESTRI:  Oh, we had—we had done what FEMA told us to be prepared for.  We were ready to sustain ourselves for 48 to 60 hours.  And we did that.  We were basically told, hang on by your fingernails for those 60 hours or so and we will be there.  We will come and get you.  Didn‘t happen. 

PHILLIPS (voice-over):  FEMA teams eventually did arrive in stricken areas, but, at least initially, in their efforts to organize an effective relief effort, the FEMA workers sometimes crossed wires with local officials.  Maestri told us FEMA workers seized diesel fuel needed to run generators for emergency response. 

MAESTRI:  When we went to get fuel, fuel that we had ordered and paid for, bought by Jefferson Parish, that fuel was seized and we were told that FEMA had taken control of all fuel and they were seizing that and we would have to justify, go through a bureaucratic process, to get that fuel released to the parish. 

PHILLIPS (on camera):  So your people were turned around? 

MAESTRI:  We were turned around and we came to realize that if that‘s the kind of game that‘s being played, when I sent the fuel truck back, I sent it back with armed sheriff‘s deputies, because, on my watch, I was going to try to make sure that nobody died. 

PHILLIPS:  And did they get the fuel? 

MAESTRI:  We got the fuel that time. 

PHILLIPS:  So, you were saying that FEMA actually became an obstruction? 

MAESTRI:  That‘s correct. 

PHILLIPS (voice-over):  And when his emergency radio communications system was suddenly crippled, Maestri says he was stunned to learn that FEMA was responsible. 

MAESTRI:  When my technicians get there, they report back to me, hey, I know why you‘re not communicating.  Somebody took down your antenna.  When we got him up there and he looked, he said, my God, this is a FEMA antenna.  Somebody disconnected your antenna and put theirs up. 

PHILLIPS:  The federal response drew criticism throughout the Gulf region, not just in Louisiana.  Four days after the storm, we spoke with these Mississippi fire and rescue officers, who said the federal government was missing in action.  Their neighbors were a lot more helpful than FEMA. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The state of Florida and Alabama, just the cities themselves that have come together...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Pensacola.  Pensacola. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... that sent us everything you see back here. 

All this food, it‘s all donated by cities.

PHILLIPS:  Where was FEMA when the people of the Gulf needed it? 

Jane Bullock spent 21 years at FEMA and she says there are reasons the agency didn‘t perform better.  After 9/11, FEMA was folded into the Department of Homeland Security.  That, she says, was a big mistake with serious consequences. 

JANE BULLOCK, FORMER FEMA SENIOR OFFICIAL:  FEMA consistently lost resources to other parts of the Department of Homeland Security that were higher priorities.  At the state and local level, they were told 75 percent of their time has to be spent on terrorism.  I think the results are what we‘re seeing. 

MAESTRI:  The emphasis now is on homeland security.  And, now, we certainly understand that.  You know, the money is going to prepare us for an attack against terrorists.  But Max Mayfield put it most succinctly,  And he said, we can‘t be sure when and if a terrorist attack is going to come, but we do know that hurricanes are going to come every year. 

PHILLIPS:  Former FEMA official Bullock says something else contributed to what many describe as the agency‘s poor performance.  The changes at FEMA in recent years have resulted in hundreds of experienced disaster relief professionals leaving the agency.  The federal government isn‘t alone in taking heat for what happened after Katrina hit. 

(on camera):  How would you rate the state‘s performance? 

MAESTRI:  I think the state—you know, you know, the state‘s performance would be—would be, you know, rated as a C-plus. 

BULLOCK:  The National Guard is traditionally an asset that the governor uses.  I was surprised that the Guard wasn‘t activated in Louisiana earlier than it could have been.  I think that things would have been dramatically different if the Guard had been mobilized earlier. 

PHILLIPS (voice-over):  And what of the New Orleans mayor, who was quick to blame the federal authorities? 

(on camera):  Who failed these people? 

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS:  Everybody.  Everybody. 

PHILLIPS:  Yourself included? 

NAGIN:  I could have done things better. 

PHILLIPS:  What would you have done differently? 

NAGIN:  Screamed louder.  I should have screamed louder. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Should have screamed louder?  You should have done your job.  Look in a mirror.  Scream at that.  What a—takes the cake.  And, of course, I‘m shocked the mainstream media, which I‘m part of it, have—we haven‘t been saying anything about the fact, as Julia Reed said, that this guy‘s been camping out in Dallas, Texas, for the greater part of this past week.

And he‘s got the nerve to scream at the state and the federal government?  As I have said from the very beginning, it‘s everybody‘s fault.  The feds screwed up.  Those on the state level screwed up.  Those on the local level screwed up.  Now, it‘s amazing how Republicans only think that the state and local level messed up and Democrats only think the feds screwed up.  Everybody messed up, friends, everybody. 

Try—I know it‘s going to be hard for some of you.  Try to put your partisanship aside just for a couple of weeks while we‘re still dredging bodies out of New Orleans, just for a couple of weeks.  Just pretend for a second there aren‘t political parties.  I will be John Lennon.  Imagine there‘s no political parties.  It‘s easy if you try. 

I will tell you, it‘s disgusting.  It is disgusting people are still being partisan in this tragedy. 

Coming up next, children forced from their homes and into shelters, but now new concerns about child predators in those shelters targeting those kids.  Could it happen? 

And amazing stories of pets rescued and reunited with their owners.  We‘re going to show you how it‘s helping people start to rebuild their lives. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Now growing concerns that sex offenders could be living among thousands of hurricane evacuees in local shelters.  Officials are saying they just don‘t have the staff in place to investigate everybody‘s background.  But I will tell you what.  It‘s got evacuees in these shelters really frightened. 

There were 4,500 registered sex offenders that live in the 14 parishes hit by Hurricane Katrina.  And now over 3,000 of them, 3,000 of them, are unaccounted for.  And, unfortunately, officials believe many of them are living in these shelters with these children. 

With me now to talk about it is Andy Kahn.  He‘s the director of crime victims assistance for the Houston mayor‘s office. 

Andy, thanks for being back with us again. 

I‘ll tell you what.  This is a frightening situation.  What do we do about it? 


I can tell you right now, unequivocally, that Hurricane Katrina did not absolve sex offenders of their legal responsibility.  And, frankly, Joe, there‘s really very little difference, other than the extraordinary circumstances that we were dealt with, of sex offenders who are essentially relocating to another jurisdiction.  It is their responsibility to report their change of address to local and state authorities. 

So, basically, they‘ve been given kind of a two-week layover right now, and now it‘s time to rein them back in and bring them under supervision.  And I will tell you, for those that do not want to cooperate, that think they got a free ticket out of here, there‘s going to be a warrant out for your arrest and you‘re going to end up back in some jail in Louisiana. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Andy, I was just going to ask you, because I know Jeb Bush really pushed hard on the Jessica Lunsford Act that passed in the Florida state legislation this past year to make sure that they were held accountable. 

So, you‘re saying, under what Jeb wanted to do here and also in Louisiana, if these people are caught in these shelters and they don‘t turn themselves in, they‘re going to get busted and spend a lot more time in jail, right? 

KAHN:  Well, essentially, it‘s my understanding they have basically up to three weeks to report their change of address.  So, come next week, if you have not registered with authorities here in the state of Texas and confirmed that you do have a change of address, there should be a warrant out for your arrest. 

You know, obviously...

SCARBOROUGH:  How dangerous is—how dangerous is it, Andy?  We‘re looking at pictures of these little kids.  I mean, it‘s just in this big community inside the Astrodome.  These little kids wander off or try to go to the restroom by themselves. It would be very easy for them to be abducted by sex offenders, especially if you have 3,000 roaming around out there, right? 

KAHN:  You bet.  It‘s a public safety nightmare.  And that‘s why I like to tell everybody that Texas officials and Louisiana officials, as well as everywhere in the country that are housing evacuees, are taking this issue very, very seriously.  And they‘re doing whatever they can right now to get these people under supervision, to find out exactly where they‘re residing, get them out of the shelters and move them back into local communities. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Andy Kahn, we‘re going to be watching this.  I‘m going to ask you back to report on it in the coming days.  Thanks so much for being with us.

KAHN:  You betcha.  Thanks, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And coming up, there are some really amazing people out there who are helping the Hurricane Katrina victims, and not just the people.  Coming up, two people that are on the front lines of saving the lives of pets.  And they have some amazing stories and some happy endings.  And we all need happy endings these days, don‘t we? 


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, a lot of pet owners were forced to get rid of their animals or abandon them in the aftermath of Katrina.  The Humane Society says about 1,500 animals have been rescued and 200 reunited with their owners.  But they estimate that there may be more than 50,000 dogs and cats in New Orleans that still need to be rescued. 

With me now is Horace Troullier.  He‘s an animal control officer in Slidell, Louisiana.  We also have Donna Wackerbauer.  She‘s a Noah‘s Wish volunteer from Canada. 

Let me begin with you, Horace. 

How bad is the situation down there?  And what is being done to rescue the animals in New Orleans? 

HORACE TROULLIER, SLIDELL ANIMAL CONTROL:  Well, everything is pretty much going smooth at this time, but, still, there‘s a whole lot to do. 

We have been working around the clock saving many animals.  I mean, I know people are rescuing people, but our job and our goal is to get as many as we can.  Right now, we have approximately 520 animals, somewhere in that number, or—that‘s in very good hands, thanks to Noah‘s Wish that is helping our—our agency.  And everything is just going fine right now.  It‘s just hard, hard work, around the clock every day.  We have not taken a break yet.  But we just wanted to get the word out to the people that there‘s a lot more to catch up with.  So...

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re doing—they‘re going to have a lot to go, maybe as many as 50,000 pets still lost right now in New Orleans. 

Donna, do I understand you came all the way down from Canada to help out...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... in the rescue of these 50,000 or so pets? 

Talk about it.  Why did you come all the way from Canada to New Orleans? 

WACKERBAUER:  For me, it‘s following my passion.  And, you know, they need help, just as much as the people do. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And talk about that.  Talk about what you have seen since you have been there. 

WACKERBAUER:  Oh, gosh.  You know, I have seen people who have lost hope.  I have seen animals that have been brought back from what would be called, you know, the edge of death. 

And it‘s amazing, just really is amazing, lots of people that have lost homes.  Yes, we have had animals that have lost their lives. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about the reunions.  Have you all been able to put people back together with their pets that they love? 

WACKERBAUER:  Yes, we have. 

There are several that go on a day.  Horace and I have been involved in a few.  One gentleman, just in particular, he had gone three days in water, standing on a chair, holding his ham radio and his cat.  And, unfortunately, when the rescue workers came to get him out, he had to let the cat go.  So, we were contacted by MSNBC, and we went out and sent out a humane trap, and, fortunately, we were able to reunite the two of them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that is great news. 

Thank you so much.  I greatly appreciate it.

Donna, thanks for being with us. 

Horace, thank you for being with us. 

I want to show you—again, let‘s look—let‘s look at these pictures of these pets again.  And, obviously, we are primarily concerned with helping humans out in this terrible storm.  But there are people out there that know about rescuing animals, pets.  And, of course, especially for the elderly, they mean so much. 

And if you need to see about the possibility of getting hooked back up with your pet, go to PetFinder.com. 

We will be right back in a second.


SCARBOROUGH:  Again, if you want to reconnect with a pet, you can do it by going to www.PetFinder.com


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  If you want to see what‘s on my mind, you can go to my Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com. 


Tucker, what is the situation tonight? 




Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch Scarborough Country each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Discussion comments